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Learn about the Periodontal Health and Respiratory System Connection

 Maintaining healthy gums and teeth is not a sign of narcissism, but a must for ensuring general health. The relationship between oral health and well-being has been proven for the heart, autoimmune diseases including Sjogren’s Syndrome, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. New research has indicated that periodontal disease may increase the risk for respiratory infections, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and pneumonia.

COPD and pneumonia are respiratory infections caused by oral bacteria. When bacterium from the upper throat are inhaled and lodged into the lower respiratory tract, the results can be crippling. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Chronic lower respiratory diseases claims 127,924 lives annually while influenza and pneumonia kills 52,717 people (2007). A study published by the Journal of Periodontology has shown how periodontal health may impact the respiratory system.

The Periodontal Health and Respiratory System Connection

The scientific research involved the analysis of a group of 200 participants, ranging between ages 20 and 60. Each group member had a minimum 20 natural teeth (as opposed to dental implants or bridge work) and were interviewed to gauge their periodontal health. Group participants were divided into two groups of either a healthy control group or patients who were hospitalized with respiratory diseases including pneumonia, COPD, or chronic bronchitis.

The study found that those who had lackluster periodontal health were more than likely to be the individuals hospitalized with respiratory diseases. The scientists hypothesized the “Presence of oral pathogens associated with periodontal disease may increase a patients risk of developing or exacerbating respiratory disease,” (ScienceDaily.com).

Additional research proving the theory has come from researchers at the University of Buffalo. “Researchers there examined the dental plaque on the teeth of seniors who were admitted to the ICU. They discovered that the patients who contracted pneumonia while in the ICU had more dental plaque on their teeth and were more likely to have respiratory pathogens living in their plaques,” (0900-DENTIST).

About Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease affecting both gum tissue and tooth structures courtesy of dental plaque. When diagnosed in its earliest stages, the condition is called gingivitis, but when left untreated the inflammation will fully develop into periodontitis. No matter what moniker is used, it is gum disease and it can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy person.

0900-DENTIST lists the warning signs of the condition as being:

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Individuals developing spaces between teeth
  • Having an abscess (AKA pocket of pus between teeth and gums)
  • Loose teeth
  • Inflamed gums that may show signs of recession or bleeding

Oral Hygiene Essential For Reducing Risks to Respiratory System

There are two general reasons why an individual may develop periodontal disease; genetics and dental neglect. It is estimated that 30 percent of the nation’s population have the genetic makeup that increases the odds of developing gum disease by six times. Luckily, basic oral hygiene and preventative dentistry can go a long way in reducing the odds of developing of the condition, regardless of it is inherited or not.

Individuals committed to a regime of brushing, flossing and professional dental cleanings will automatically reduce the chances of developing dental problems, including gingivitis, and gum disease.

Those behaviors will reduce the amount of dental plaque build up. dental plaque is comprised of bacteria, which will produce an acid by-product when feasting on sugars and food particles. That acid can wear down tooth enamel and lead to tooth erosion, tooth decay and will contribute to periodontal disease when not properly treated and removed.

Individuals concerned about their lackluster periodontal health can count on a professional dentist to help gain the upper hand. Recommended dental treatments to treat the issue will vary based on the severity of the condition. While patient A may only receive the instructions to improve their brushing and flossing techniques, patient B may have a more advanced case of gingivitis and may need professional scaling and root planning, antibiotics, bone grafts and gum grafts to reverse the damage. Either way, 0900-DENTIST can help treat periodontal disease and reduce the odds of developing respiratory issues.

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